By COUNCILLOR JUSTINE BROOKS
When I proposed that George Town – a small council even by Tasmanian standards – develop a domestic, family and sexual violence strategy, the responses were understandable: What would the financial implications be, and how could we afford to get involved in “non-core business”?
My reaction? How can we afford not to?
There is a misinformed belief that family violence is the police’s responsibility to manage and address.
Community safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just the police – and by virtue of its status as the level of government closest to the community, councils are well placed not only to lead by example but to develop, facilitate and support family violence prevention strategies.
We at George Town are at the start of our journey – and committed to working together to recognise and respond to family violence and to facilitate/support actions that reduce its incidence and impacts.
GT councillors and senior management recently attended a Mentors in Violence Prevention training program run by Women’s Legal Services and Engender Equality.
Our Safety Committee has stipulated a priority focus on family violence within the George Town Community Safety Plan, and Council’s commitment to developing a family and sexual violence strategy is included in the George Town Community Strategic Plan 2020-30.
While there is much to do, this tool will benefit us all – and I am particularly impressed that it shares the work that other councils are doing to reduce family violence within their municipal areas.
We would encourage all councils to explore the Our Watch Prevention toolkit website and to consider developing their own family and sexual violence strategy for their community’s social and economic wellbeing.
Our Watch, a national leader of primary prevention of violence against women and their children, will present the Prevention toolkit for local government at next month’s Local Roads & Transport Congress in Wagga Wagga NSW.
Cr Brooks is CEO of the Northern Tasmania Sexual Assault Support Service.